A mild end-of-summer day, with temperatures in the 70s and low humidity, was the perfect forum for artists from West New York and North Bergen during the Edgewater Arts Council’s 24th Annual Edgewater Arts & Music Festival on Sunday, Sept. 20.
Though the artists from the two North Hudson communities were there with their pieces for sale, they said to a person that what pleases them about their works and drives them to create more was not so much monetary as personal satisfaction.
Stephanie W., West New York
Stephanie W. of West New York, who prefers that her last name not be used, makes her own one-of-a-kind jewelry, mainly pendants, rings, and bracelets. She uses a roster full of gemstones, including ruby, emerald, lapis, crystal, amethyst, and pearl. She couples these with these with costume metals, such as brass, sterling silver, and 18-carat gold plate over sterling silver.
“It’s a creative outlet,” Stephanie said of her work. “It’s also a hobby. I really like making it.”
Involved with art since age 7, she said her artistry is also therapeutic in nature.
“It’s sort of like a stress reliever,” she said. “Some people like to watch TV, but I like to make things.”
Stephanie said another reward of her work is when customers return wearing her creations, complimenting her on them, and many times ordering more.
She has even thought outside of her artistic boundaries, creating a Reflexi Foot, a product she says has doctors and therapists buzzing.
“It’s a foot product that you can use to massage, stretch, and exercise your feet,” Stephanie said.
But art, something she has done since 7 years old, interests her most.
Erasmo Jorge Gomez, North Bergen
For Erasmo Jorge Gomez, 67, a native of Cuba who has lived in North Bergen for more than 20 years, his art is all about his pride and his ability to keep learning about his craft. He paints abstract works using acrylics.
“The day I say, ‘This is my best,’ I stop painting,” Gomez said at the Edgewater event.
In nearly 40 years of painting, he has not uttered those words yet.
Gomez paints in the genre that he does, and uses the materials he uses, because he wants to be in total control of what will be his eventual artwork.
“I control the color and the causes of the effect,” he said. “The rest will take its course.”
Gomez, now retired, is a prolific artist, painting between 100 and 300 pieces a year, from as small as 6” by 6” to as large as 70” by 70”.
Greens, reds, and blacks are seen in many of his creations; it all depends on his mood.
He gets a lot of public comment on his works, and he uses those comments to motivate himself.
“When people see the work and say ‘I like it,’ it always makes me strive to do better,” Gomez said. He does not compete with other artists, he just challenges himself.
Perez has exhibited his work throughout Hudson County, including at the William V. Musto Cultural Center in Union City and a summer show at James J. Braddock/North Hudson Park in North Bergen. He has studied art at a number of places, including New Jersey City University in Jersey City.
Olga Rogachevskaya, North Bergen
Olga Rogachevskaya of North Bergen said that art has been not only a professional, but a personal outlet for her. She teaches art classes at her own art studio in Bergen County, but also does it for herself.
“If I have an emotion or story I want to share, I share it through art. That’s my medium to communicate through,” Rogachevskaya said. “If I was a writer, I’d write about them. Because I’m an artist, it comes out on paper or canvas.”
A native of Ukraine who immigrated to the United States in 1998 and has lived in North Bergen for four years, she uses watercolors, acrylics, and linoleum prints to create landscapes, street scenes, still life, and portraits. Some of her pieces are housed at the Barsky Gallery in Hoboken.
Rogachevskaya said she enjoys painting commuter scenes, or general people scenes, the most.
“They’re some kinds of love stories,” she said. “They’re mostly about people’s journeys through life.”
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.